forestland by primusboy


Delta Wildlife, Inc.

Forest and Wildlife Research Center,
Mississippi State University                                      Forestland
Mississippi Department of Wildlife,
Fisheries and Parks
Mississippi Forestry Commission                                  Management
USDA, Natural Resources Conservation
                                                                  for Wildlife
USDA, Farm Service Agency

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Wildlife Mississippi

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    With forethought and planning, forest          and songbirds can also improve timber
    landowners can increase wildlife               stand quality. Forest management is
    populations in their forests. But creation     absolutely essential for maintaining
    and maintenance of high quality habitat        populations of wildlife species like
    requires active management. There are          quail and rabbits that depend on early
    a number of management practices               successional habitats. These species are
    that forest owners can use to increase         not highly mobile, and forest-dominated
    and improve forestland wildlife habitat.       properties that lack grassy habitats will not
    Habitat management practices, such as          support species that require a diversity of
    thinning, that benefit quail, deer, turkey,    native grasses and forbs.

      Closed-canopy pine plantation
Notice the absence of grasses and forbs in the
understory to provide food or cover resources
for quail and other grassland wildlife. These
stands are also devoid of high quality foods for
other wildlife like deer or turkey.
    Reducing tree density is the first step in        timber production, a basal area as low
    developing the grass and forb ground              as 30 ft2/acre will produce optimal
    cover so valuable to quail and other              habitat. It may be desirable to thin less
    grassland species. Thinning reduces stem          heavily during the first thinning, as trees
    density and opens the forest canopy,              may be more vulnerable to ice or wind
    allowing more sunlight to reach the               damage. Subsequent thins can then be
    ground and stimulating growth of ground-          used to reduce basal area to 60 ft2/acre
    layer vegetation. In Mississippi, most            or less. Periodic thins will be necessary
    species of pines can be commercially              to maintain lower basal areas as trees
    thinned for the first time at 13-18 years         continue to grow after each thinning.
    of age, depending on the site. Typical            Individual landowner objectives will vary,
    timber thins reduce basal area to about           so consultation with a registered forester
    70 ft2/acre, but thinning stands to a basal       and a wildlife biologist can help you find
    area of 60 ft2/acre or less produces better       the best balance that meets both your
    grassland wildlife habitat. If grassland          wildlife and timber objectives.
    wildlife habitat is a greater priority than

Pine plantation thinned along every fifth row.
Notice the increased sunlight that is visible along
the thinned row.
                                                              Prescribed fire in pine

Just as thinning stimulates growth
of grasses and forbs, it also releases
understory hardwood brush and trees
that will shade out desirable grasses and
forbs if left unmanaged. Some form of
                                             Thinned pine stand with grass/forb
periodic disturbance will be necessary to
                                              understory after prescribed fire
control brush invasion. Prescribed fire
and disking are two disturbance tools.
When fuel conditions are appropriate for       other wildlife. In the absence of soil
burning, thinned pine stands should be         disturbance, the plant community
prescribe-burned during winter to early-       composition changes over several
spring. Prescribed burning should always       years, and annual plants are replaced
be conducted by a certified prescribed         by perennial forbs and grasses and
burn manager, who will develop a written       eventually, woody plants. This change in
burn plan and obtain appropriate permits       plant communities is called succession.
before burning. Check with your county         By planning soil disturbances on a
Mississippi Forestry Commission office         2– to 3–year rotation, you can manage
for more information about prescribed          succession and develop a complex of
burning regulations. If prescribed fire        different habitats that meet the seasonal
is not an option, light disking between        habitat requirements of a number of
thinned trees during fall or winter is         wildlife species. For example, first-year
an alternative for relatively clean sites.     burn areas typically produce good quail
Always be especially cautious when             brood cover, whereas second- and third-
disking in woodlands to avoid damaging         year burn areas provide better nesting
tree trunks and roots and to avoid             cover. A rotational burning plan can be
personal injury or equipment damage.           developed by creating 60-acre or smaller
Soil disturbance, such as prescribed fire      burn units and burning half to a third
or disking, enhances habitat quality for       of these units one year, another half to
quail and other grassland birds because it     a third the next year, and so on. Thus,
inhibits woody brush growth, promotes          a given unit is only burned every 2-3
favored seed producing plants, reduces         years, but some portion of the property
plant residue, increases bare ground, and      is burned each year. A rotational disking
increases insect abundance. The plant          plan can be developed similarly. Disk a
communities that develop following fire        half to a third of suitable area each year
or disking also provide highly nutritious      in a rotational fashion so that all suitable
forage for deer, rabbits, turkeys, and         areas are disked every 2-3 years.
Pine stand invaded by hardwood brush (left)
compared to a pine stand treated with selective
herbicide (right). Notice the grass/forb under-
story present in the herbicide treated stand.

    Often, fire has been excluded from pine       some planning, you can protect some
    stands for so long that invasive hardwood     mast/fruit producing hardwoods and
    species can no longer be controlled by        shrubs from prescribed fire and herbicide
    low-intensity prescribed fires or disking.    treatments. These scattered hard and
    After thinning, if hardwood sprouts are       soft mast producing trees and shrubs
    abundant in the understory or midstory,       can provide food and cover resources
    it may be necessary to treat these stands     for a diversity of wildlife. Invasive,
    with a selective herbicide such as imazapyr   non-native vegetation (e.g. kudzu,
    (e.g. Arsenal AC®). Chemical control          cogongrass) should also be controlled
    of invasive hardwoods is enhanced when        by herbicide treatment. Cogongrass,
    prescribed fire is used during the dormant    especially, is extremely invasive and
    season following herbicide application        seriously detrimental to native plants
    (wait at least 6 months after application     and wildlife habitat. Herbicidal control
    before burning to maximize herbicide          of all types of invasive vegetation will be
    effectiveness). Once these hardwood           more economical and effective if invasive
    species are controlled with herbicide,        species are treated when they first appear.
    future fire or disking treatments on a 2-     Contact a forester or wildlife biologist
    to 3-year rotation should provide better      to develop a plan for controlling invasive
    control of hardwood invasions. With           vegetation.
    A good way to produce more grassland          during thinning of a pine plantation. Hub-
    wildlife habitat in forestland is to create   and-spoke lanes should be at least 30 feet
    forest openings. For quail, 10% or            wide to maintain grassy cover, and the
    more of forested acreage should be            maximum width of lanes will depend on
    maintained in openings. These can be          how much timber acreage you are willing
    created in established woodlands by clear     to remove from production (generally, the
    cutting 1– to 5–acre patches throughout       wider the lanes, the better). Hub-and-
    forest stands. Openings can easily be         spokes can also be used as fire breaks
    created during commercial thinning            for prescribed burning of mid-rotation
    of pine stands. Plan ahead and have           pine stands. Forest openings can also be
    your forester mark out forest openings        developed by widening or heavily thinning
    when marking timber for thinning. For         woodland roadsides and maintaining log-
    mid-rotation pine plantations, a better       decks or skid trails used during timber
    approach to developing openings is to         harvests. Forest openings may also be
    create interconnected forest openings         used for permanent or rotational food
    in a hub-and-spoke design. The hub-           plots planted to appropriate supplemental
    and-spoke opening consists of a central       food crops and log-decks during timber
    opening (hub) from which open lanes           harvests. Prescribed fire or disking
    (spokes) radiate through the pine stand       on a 2- to 3-year rotation (described
    as if simulating a wagon wheel. Hub-          above) should be used to manage forest
    and-spoke openings can be created by          openings.
    removing several adjacent rows of trees

Aerial view of a hub-and-spoke forest opening.
Clearcuts, and the subsequent plant
communities that colonize a clearcut,
typically provide good grassland wildlife
habitat for 3-5 years after harvest.
Replanting will typically be preceded by
some form of site preparation. Use
of prescribed fire and mechanical site               Clearcut and early successional habitat.
preparation methods will stimulate a
suite of annual weeds, legumes, and
grasses that will benefit quail and other     regeneration sites to avoid damaging trees
early successional wildlife species.          and to avoid personal injury or equipment
Increasingly, herbicides are an important     damage. Where appropriate for the site,
component of site preparation. Selective      longleaf pine is much more conducive
hardwood herbicides, like imazapyr, can       to grassland wildlife habitat management
increase pine growth and survival and         than other pines because longleaf can
inhibit development of a dense brush          be burned at a younger age. Also, limb
layer, thereby increasing the window          and leaf characteristics of longleaf pines
of grass/forb plant communities early         generally allow more sunlight to reach the
in the rotation. Use of herbicides for        ground, thereby creating a more favorable
herbaceous control after planting should      environment for grasses and forbs.
be restricted to banded applications          Longleaf pine seedlings can be prescribe-
along the tree rows. When regenerating        burned the year after establishment, but
a harvested stand with loblolly, slash,       do not burn once seedlings begin height
or longleaf pine seedlings, replant trees     growth. After trees are greater than 6
on an 8- by 10-foot spacing if quail and      feet in height, prescribed burning may be
other grassland wildlife habitat is your      resumed (in well managed longleaf stands,
objective. Planting trees on a wider          these heights have been documented by
spacing allows maintenance of grassland       the end of the third or fourth growing
habitat for a greater period of time before   season). Consultation with a registered
canopy closure of plantations. Rotational     forester is recommended before burning
disking between planted rows in relatively    young longleaf pine stands. As with
clean sites can be utilized during the        other pine species, rotational disking
first few years after planting to maintain    between planted rows may be utilized to
grassland habitat structure. Always           maintain grassland habitat structure when
be especially cautious when disking in        prescribed fire is not feasible.
                                            Longleaf (left) and loblolly (right) pines
                                            planted at the same time and same seedling
                                            density (about 600 trees per acre). Notice
                                            how much more open the longleaf pine
                                            canopy is than the loblolly pine canopy.

As in established stands, a good way       corridors can be maintained throughout
to produce grassland wildlife habitat in   the stand after the forest canopy closes.
regenerated forest stands is to create     Without interconnecting forest openings,
forest openings. You can create forest     grassy openings within young pine
openings by simply leaving some well       plantations will become isolated and
distributed 1– to 5–acre unplanted         generally unusable for quail as the pine
patches of land when regenerating with     canopy closes. Hub-and-spoke openings
planted seedlings. A better approach to    can also serve as fire breaks to protect
developing openings in pine plantations    young plantations from wild fire and for
is to create interconnected openings       prescribed burning in later years. These
in a hub-and-spoke design. With the        openings are also useful for log-decks
hub and spoke design, grassland habitat    during future timber harvests.
    Converting former agricultural fields         sensitive to competition with invasive,
    or pastures to pine forestland and            non-native grasses. Eradication of these
    managing for grassland wildlife habitat is    grasses will significantly improve longleaf
    accomplished in the same general way as       seedling survival. Non-native grasses
    regeneration of recently harvested forests.   should be eradicated with an appropriate
    However, pine plantings at these sites        herbicide treatment, but the appropriate
    should be preceded by site preparation        treatment differs depending on which
    to control herbaceous competition. This       non-native grass or grasses are present.
    is especially true when sod-forming, non-     Consult with your forester to develop an
    native grasses are present at the planting    appropriate herbicide prescription for
    site. The most common of these invasive,      pine establishment in former agricultural
    non-native grasses include fescue,            fields. Once invasive grasses are
    bahiagrass, bermudagrass, johnsongrass,       controlled, these sites can be managed
    and cogongrass. Both cogongrass and           as recommended for forest regeneration
    bermudagrass are extremely invasive and       sites. Wildlife habitat in these old field
    seriously detrimental to native plants        pine plantings may be further enhanced by
    and wildlife habitat. These non-native        planting native grasses and forbs between
    grasses provide poor wildlife habitat and     seedling rows after non-native grasses
    compete with growing seedling trees.          have been eliminated.
    Longleaf pine seedlings are especially
                                                    Longleaf pine seedling in an old bahiagrass
                                                    pasture. Habitat in this former pasture
                                                    could be improved by eradicating bahiagrass
                                                    and allowing native grasses and forbs to
                                                    recolonize the site.

Longleaf pine planted in an old field
Developing an integrated forest-wildlife       Following is a brief summary of financial
management plan with a wildlife biologist      assistance programs available for private
and a registered forester can provide          landowners.
valuable assistance in the implementation
of these practices for both wildlife habitat   The Conservation Reserve Program
and timber management. A number of             (CRP), Environmental Quality Incentives
cost-share programs exist that can help        Program (EQIP), and Conservation
with implementation costs associated with      Security Program (CSP) are available
forest management practices. In order to       for landowners with eligible production
successfully achieve management goals,         agriculture land. CRP provides
clearly established objectives (forest-        conservation practices for field-level
wildlife management plan) should be in         management, whereas EQIP and CSP
place before consulting with agencies          are more oriented toward whole-
that administer cost-share programs. By        farm management. While many of the
planning ahead, programs and practices         same goals can be accomplished with
that accomplish management objectives          each program, there are differences in
and are financially sound may be selected.     eligibility and financial incentives under
each program. If acreage is enrolled       Program (FLEP), and Forest Resource
in an existing CRP pine woodland           Development Program (FRDP) are available
conservation cover, mid-contract           to any non-industrial private forestland
management cost-shares are available for   owners. When fully funded, the Healthy
prescribed fire, herbicide application,    Forests Reserve Program (HFRP) will assist
and disking. Contact the county            private landowners in restoring rare forest
U.S.D.A. Farm Service Agency office        ecosystems (e.g. longleaf pine) through
for more information regarding CRP If .    active management and stewardship.
a whole-farm management program is         Contact the county NRCS office about
applicable to the property, contact the    WHIP and HFRP or the county Mississippi
county U.S.D.A. Natural Resources          Forestry Commission office for more
Conservation Service (NRCS) office for                                        .
                                           information about FLEP and FRDP These
more information on EQIP or CSP Forest     four programs provide cost-shares
management practices available through     for forest management practices such
EQIP will depend on the county in which    as prescribed fire, herbicidal control
the property is located. Depending on      of invasive vegetation, and forest
land uses, multiple farm programs may      regeneration. Wildlife Mississippi has
be applied to optimize conservation and    a longleaf pine restoration program
financial benefits.                        available. Contact Wildlife Mississippi
The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program    for more information about their longleaf
(WHIP), Forest Land Enhancement            restoration program.
The following agencies are available to provide wildlife and forest management planning or technical assistance for
private landowners in Mississippi.

Mississippi Department of Wildlife,                                  Mississippi Forestry Commission
Fisheries and Parks                                                                                                601.359.1386
Dave Godwin, 662.325.5119
State Office, 601.432.2400                                           Natural Resources Conservation
Mississippi State University                               
Wes Burger, 662.325.8782                                             Area 1 (Northeast Mississippi)
Rick Hamrick, 662.325.5470                                           Biologist: John DeFazio, 662.534.7651
                                                                     Forester: Lynn Ellison, 662.844.2341
Mississippi State University Extension
Office                                                               Area 2 (Central Mississippi)                                                         Biologist: Jeffrey Lee, 601.965.4559                                     Forester: Ramsey Russell, 601.965.4559
                                                                     Area 3 (South Mississippi)
                                                                     Biologist: Barry Pessoney, 601.296.1173
Delta Wildlife, Inc.                                                 Forester: James Barnes, 601.296.1173
Trey Cooke, 662.686.3372                                             Area 4 (Delta)
Gayden Pollen, 662.686.3370                                          Biologist: Kevin Nelms, 662.453.2762
                                                                     Forester: Mike Oliver, 662.453.2762
Wildlife Mississippi                                                 State Office
Daniel Coggin, 662.256.4486 (Northeast Miss.)                        Biologist: Glynda Clardy, 601.965.4339
Randy Browning, 601.264.6010 (South Miss.)                           Forester: Alan Holditch, 601.965.4339

Photographs courtesy
Randy Browning             Andy Ezell
Wes Burger                 Rick Hamrick
Jim Cox                    Bobby Watkins
Scott Edwards              Shane Wellendorf

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